Running Time: 88 minutes
MPAA Rating: G
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Region: 1
MSRP: $19.98

Own It!
Challenge of the Super Friends - United They Stand (1978)

This is the second of Warner's four-episode compilations of the sixteen-episode run of Hanna-Barbera's popular cartoon, which pitted DC Comics' Justice League against a coalition of their arch-enemies, The Legion of Doom. If you missed our review of the first volume, it's over here.

The Legion of Doom continues to trot out a series of master plans involving high-tech improbabilities that astound the viewer and cause one to ask, If these guys can do that, how come they can't pull off a simple bank heist? The answer, of course, is that the Super Friends will always win, because face it – this is a children's show. However, for the sake of the series' continued viability, they can also never keep their hands on the defeated super villains, so exactly how good a moral is being taught is debatable (Always have a good escape plan seems to be the most pertinent lesson here).

This volume's master plans:

  • Trial of the Super Friends - Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern guard a research lab which has somehow rendered light into a liquid. Though the Legion of Doom wishes to steal this new power source (mainly because it is a universal solvent which can dissolve everything – except glass. And the ground. And concrete. And…), the bad guys also have a suitably complicated plan to capture the four super guards, submit them to a kangaroo court, and sentence them. Their punishment? To be hunted down by their own android duplicates, armed with their own purloined super weapons…
  • Monolith of Evil – Though we may think of Solomon Grundy as being smart as a bag of hammers (admittedly, super-strong and invulnerable hammers), he is quite perceptive. He has realized that the strange energy responsible for his swamp-centered origin is comes from a monolith at the center of the earth. Finding the monolith guarded by the mandatory center-of-the-earth monsters, they trick the Super Friends into retrieving the monolith for them, then slap a green kryptonite ball-and-chain on Superman, just for laughs. Using the monolith's unlimited power, they proceed to do all sorts of anti-social things, like extinguish the sun.
  • The Giants of Doom – In another surprise twist, Bizarro Superman, whom I assumed was a moron, turns out to be a scientific genius. He's found a way to combine three rare elements to form a ray that will transform the bad guys into 100 foot tall, world-conquering, Super Friend squashing giants. Things start off with a bang when the Legion has to retrieve one of the elements by cutting the Moon in half! These are some bad bongos, lemme tell you.
  • Secret Origins of the Super Friends – Somehow, Lex Luthor has found out the secret origins of the three most powerful Super Friends – Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern – and instead of using the resulting knowledge of their secret identities to wreak havoc, he decides to use the Legion's mothballed Time Conveyor (remember that? From Episode #4? The Time Trap?) to alter history by interfering in the origin process. Thus Cheetah becomes Wonder Woman, Lex winds up with Green Lantern's ring, and Superman's rocket is nudged toward a planet with a red sun, negating his powers. Though there are the usual strange paradoxes of a time travel story, it must be admitted that without that ludicrous cat costume, the Cheetah is pretty hot.

Colors are suitably bright and vivid, befitting the material's four-color source. The film elements are also in marvelous shape, though I can't use the word flawless here. This is going to be a common complaint for digital transfers of low-budget animation of this sort: any imperfection is made glaring by the added clarity. Dust and some cel overlap constantly draw attention to themselves.

Story Editor Jeffrey Scott once again provides optional introductions to the episodes – the major difference from Volume One's intros is that in two incidences, the spots – obviously taken from a larger interview – actually have some bearing on the episodes they precede. Volume One's "Legion of Doom" supplement is mirrored by this disc's "Hall of Justice", which provides listings of powers, archenemies, and a brief music video for each of the heroes. And finally, "Trivia Challenge of the Super Friends" is a series of questions about events on the disc; correct answers provide a clip verifying the information, and wrong answers are rewarded with a scene of the Super Friends getting beaten up.

Your interest in these discs is going to depend on several things, and most involve your childhood, your level of comic geekitude, and your tolerance for limited animation.

Dr. Freex, 1/1/2004